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Nantahala National Forest Hikes

nakedgroundtree.jpgNantahala, in Cherokee, means Land of the Noonday Sun which refers to the Nantahala Gorge where the sun only reaches the valley floor in the middle of the day.

The Nantahala National Forest, established in 1920, is now a diverse collection of noncontiguous protected land in Western North Carolina, the largest of the four forests in the state.

The area is packed with hiking, rafting, camping and fishing opportunities. Three long-distance trails, the Appalachian Trail, Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Bartram Trail, go through the forest. Yet, maybe because it is not close to large population centers or not well publicized, most of this forest is quieter than the adjoining lands in Pisgah National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hike Name
Location Total Distance
Total Ascent
Horsepasture River Near Cashiers, NC 8.9 miles
2,110 ft.
Naked Ground Loop Joyce Kilmer - Slickrock Wilderness
10.5 miles 3,500 ft.
Wesser Bald Nantahala Gorge 10.8 miles 2,760 ft.

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